Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Lessons From Schon -- The Worst Physics Fraudster?

Date:
May 7, 2009
Source:
Institute of Physics
Summary:
How did a 31-year-old physicist working at Bell Labs in New Jersey, US, get away with possibly the worst case of physics research fraud known? From claims to have made the world's first organic electrical laser to the fictional construction of the smallest ever transistor, the repercussions of Jan Hendrik Schon's fraud are still felt today, seven years after he was found guilty of scientific misconduct and fired by his employer.

How did a 31-year-old physicist working at Bell Labs in New Jersey, US, get away with possibly the worst case of physics research fraud known? From claims to have made the world's first organic electrical laser to the fictional construction of the smallest ever transistor, the repercussions of Jan Hendrik Schön's fraud are still felt today, seven years after he was found guilty of scientific misconduct and fired by his employer.

Related Articles


Writing in the May issue of Physics World, Eugenie Samuel Reich chronicles how his fraud shook the scientific world, in abridged and edited extracts from her new book 'Plastic Fantastic'. Reich, a science journalist in the US, describes how Schön's research developed from colleague-pleasing fibs into world-class deception and asks why the much-celebrated self-correcting nature of science did not bring the fraud to light sooner.

In 2000 alone, Schön published eight papers in Science and Nature and became known for his ability to coax materials into superconductors, leading scientists in at least a dozen labs to chase research rainbows, wasting millions of dollars of US government research money.

It was Schön's journal paper describing the construction of molecular transistors that tripped the first domino when two fellow physicists attempted to patent research that showed that soft lithography could be used to make softer and gentle contact with organic molecules.

Julia Hsu and Lynn Loo were using Schön's paper to show how novel their experimental progress was when they accidentally stumbled across duplicated data and raised an alarm bell that led eventually to Schön's dismissal.

As Reich writes, "Science was corrected in the Schön case, but not by itself – only because individual scientists made corrections. From would-be replicators in dozens of labs to many sceptics, only a couple of researchers were transformed into whistle-blowers by the unlikely pattern of [duplicated] evidence."

Reich continues, "Fraud was able to stifle questions about Schön's lab technique that would otherwise have been asked, and to turn review processes at journals into opportunities for additional fabrication. Other scientists' support of the fraud was unwitting, but the decision to place so much trust in a colleague was a conscious rationalisation that continues to be defended in science to this day."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Institute of Physics. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Institute of Physics. "Lessons From Schon -- The Worst Physics Fraudster?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 May 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090505111649.htm>.
Institute of Physics. (2009, May 7). Lessons From Schon -- The Worst Physics Fraudster?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 30, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090505111649.htm
Institute of Physics. "Lessons From Schon -- The Worst Physics Fraudster?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090505111649.htm (accessed March 30, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Monday, March 30, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Inspectors Found Faulty Work Before NYC Blast

Inspectors Found Faulty Work Before NYC Blast

AP (Mar. 27, 2015) — An hour before an apparent gas explosion sent flames soaring and debris flying at a Manhattan apartment building, injuring 19 people, utility company inspectors decided the work being done there was faulty. (March 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Facebook Building Plane-Sized Drones For Global Internet

Facebook Building Plane-Sized Drones For Global Internet

Newsy (Mar. 27, 2015) — Facebook on Thursday revealed more details about its Internet-connected drone project. The drone is bigger than a 737, but lighter than a car. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robot Returns from International Space Station and Sets Two Guinness World Records

Robot Returns from International Space Station and Sets Two Guinness World Records

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Mar. 27, 2015) — The companion robot "Kirobo" returns to earth from the International Space Station and sets two Guinness World Records. Sharon Reich reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Residents Witness Building Explosion, Collapse

Residents Witness Building Explosion, Collapse

AP (Mar. 26, 2015) — Witnesses recount the sites and sounds of a massive explosion and subsequent building collapse in the heart of Manhattan&apos;s trendy East Village on Thursday. (March 26) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins